This is one of the first single-author comparisons of different South Asian states around the theme of religious conflict. Based on new research and syntheses of the literature on 'communalism', it argues that religious conflict in this region in the modern period was never simply based on sectarian or theological differences or the clash of civilizations. Instead, the book proposes that the connection between religious radicalism and everyday violence relates to the actual (and perceived) weaknesses of political and state structures. For some, religious and ethnic mobilisation has provided a means of protest, where representative institutions failed. For others, it became a method of dealing with an uncertain political and economic future. For many it has no concrete or deliberate function, but has effectively upheld social stability, paternalism and local power, in the face of globalisation and the growing aspirations of the region's most underprivileged citizens.
William Gould is Senior Lecturer in Indian History at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Hindu Nationalism and the Language of Politics in Late Colonial India (2004) and Bureaucracy, Community and Influence in India: Society and the State, 1930s-1960s (2010).
1. Introduction: community and conflict in South Asia; 2. Building spheres of community: 1860s-1910s; 3. Transforming spheres of community: the post First World War world; 4. Nationalising spheres of community: anti-colonialism and religious politics; 5. The 1940s, state transformation, community and conflict; 6. National integrity and pluralism, 1947-1967; 7. The decades of transformation: 1970s and 1980s; 8. The resurgence of religious nationalism: 1990 to the present.